Complex Female Agency, the “Final Girl” trope, and the Subversion and Reaffirmation of Patriarchy: The Cases of Western & MENA Horror Films
This research explores gender representation in horror films through a detailed analysis of the archetype of the “final girl” to see whether she could be a source of power and agency for female audiences. Contemporary research has often disregarded the impact of horror films in shaping stereotypes. In recent years, feminist film theory studies of horror films focused predominantly on analyzing the dichotomy between masculinity and femininity while highlighting instances of women's victimization. This becomes a critical case to study as it will explore the film’s complex female character concerning a feminist role model with the connotations it brings to the contemporary cultural and social anxieties. Through an examination of; Scream (1996), El Ens Wa Al-Jinn (Humans & Jinn) (1985), and Djinn (2013), the study considers the extent to which the horror genre disrupts or reaffirms patriarchal paradigms. By analyzing films from Western and Arab cinema, I will consider whether feminist discourses have specific cultural iterations or certain fixed and immutable global concerns. In particular, I will focus on the trope of the “final girl”, the last female character who remains alive to confront the killer, and the one, therefore, who can tell other people what, happened. This trope has functioned differently; for example, it can reproduce supremely misogynistic fantasies of female victims and their moral culpability or destabilize and undermine them, offering a complex representation of female agency instead. I will argue that this trope is not found in Arab cinema because, in this context, the horror genre does not provide space for the examination of female agency instead; it tends to reaffirm existing social structures. Rather than representing male violence through slasher films, the danger to women comes from externalized supernatural entities in the form of horror films of the supernatural variety. In this way, the danger is shifted away from men and the structures of patriarchy.
"Complex Female Agency, the “Final Girl” trope, and the Subversion and Reaffirmation of Patriarchy: The Cases of Western & MENA Horror Films,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss3/5